album reviews

The Ponys
Turn the Lights Out
Matador (2007)

If "Turn the Lights Out," the third effort from Chicago's Ponys, sounds eerily reminiscent of Sonic Youth's effects-laden bursts of guitar pop, there's good reason: John Agnello, who produced and engineered last year's Sonic Youth album, "Rather Ripped," was also behind the boards for "Lights."

That sonic similarity is most prevalent on "Poser Psychotic," in which Jered Gummere's breathy, Thurston Moore-esque vocals are coupled with a fiery lead guitar line that rises over the song's droning din.

Although subtler on other tracks, that Sonic Youth feel persists throughout "Lights," from the cascading guitar riff on "1209 Seminary" to the distorted chords of "Double Vision." But the quartet has broader influences than just those New York rock gods; the shimmering reverb that pervades "Lights" also recalls the early 1990s shoegazer movement, as the band channels Ride on the dreamy "Shine" and "Kingdom of Hearts."

Although such notable influences do eliminate most of the album's possible surprises, it is far from predictable or boring. The Ponys have captured the most engaging aspects of their heroes in a collection of catchy tunes that will provide a solid foundation as they continue to flesh out their sound.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 23 March 2007, Page WE10
.: Turn the Lights Out on